Canada bid for eight straight gold medals at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Breclav, Czech Republic couldn’t have come easier, capping off a perfect tournament with a 7-3 victory over Sweden in the gold medal game.
Canada was the easy favourites coming into the game, large in part due to their seven year run as champions at the Ivan Hlinka. It didn’t help that Canada also took home the 2-0 victory over the Tre Kronor this past Tuesday. So it didn’t come to much of a surprise when the team in red were able to find the back of the net very early into the contest.
After just 2:28 of play, Pierre-Luc Dubois took the puck from the corner and fired a shot towards the net. Unfortunately for him, the puck would get stopped by an opposing defender, but Dubois would still retrieve the puck in time to fire it past Swedish netminder Filip Gustavsson for the 1-0 goal early on.
Known more for his playmaking prowess at this tournament for Canada, Dubois would find the back of the net for the second time in the first period. This time, the Cape Breton youngster would once again collect his own rebound, picking up the puck following a chance from the point by Samuel Girard to take the 2-0 lead with nine minutes remaining in the period.
Canada was having fun in the first period, a sequence of time that saw them head to the first intermission with a 4-0 lead. At the 15:59 mark of the first, Mississauga Steelheads forward Michael McLeod scored while falling down in the slot, giving his team the three goal advantage. Then, less than a minute later, Tyler Benson ended Gustavsson’s night after capitalizing on his own rebound, extending Canada’s lead even further.
Canada’s dominance wasn’t as evident in the second period, but it was still a one-sided affair. At the 27:14 mark, Tanner Kaspick took the pass from McLeod, but would get stopped on his first scoring chance by Swedish backup Isak Wallin. Wallin wouldn’t get a good enough hold on the puck, however, and Kaspick would use his strength to shove the puck over the line and in for the 5-0 lead.
Sweden didn’t score in their first four periods against Canada over two games, but they did find a way to put one in during the second. Jesper Bratt would find a way to defeat Dylan Wells’ shutout by rushing to the slot and beating two Canadian defensemen to fire the puck between the legs of the Canadian goaltender, cutting Canada’s lead to four. Canada’s five goal lead wouldn’t be gone for long, with Sarnia Sting Jordan Kyrou finding the back of the net in the final minute of the second period.
With the outcome pretty much decided, the Swedes decided to put a few goals in the net just to give them some life. With Brett Howden kicked out of the game due to a violent slash early in the second, Sweden would cut the lead in half with most of the third period still to go. First, McLeod’s potential teammate in Alex Nylander scored a quick one a minute into the period from between the face-off circles, a solid unassisted effort.
A minute after that, Nylander would be involved in another goal, this time setting up linemate William Fallstrom, who flipped the puck up over Wells and in.
Canada wasn’t looking to go without a goal in the third period, so they mad eup for their slower start with a very pretty goal with eight minutes to go. Beck Malenstyn would get credit for the goal after some slick passing by Dubois and Tyson Jost led to the puck on Malenstyn’s stick and in the net. It was the last goal that Canada would need in the contest, finishing with a 7-3 victory to secure the gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Wit the win, Canada snagged their eighth straight title at the tournament that, since 1991, the country has only lost five times since the inception of the event. Sweden was the last team to win the gold other than Canada, defeating Finland in the 2007 event. With the Tre Kronor winning bronze, the Swedes now move with in two medals of tying the Czech Republic (10) for fourth all time in the entire tournament.
Additionally, 2015 has been a very good year for Hockey Canada. After winning the World Juniors on home soil in January, Canada has gone on to win the World Championships, Inline World’s and now the Ivan Hlinka tournament to start off the 2015-2016 hockey season. On the women’s side, Canada secured the silver medal against the Americans, who’s Ivan Hlinka team was only good for a 5th place finish this year.
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